Saturday, July 07, 2007

Trouble in Belarus

Belarus: 20 Church workers arrested in crackdown

Minsk, Jul. 5, 2007 ( - Police in Belarus have arrested 20 Christian human-rights workers in two separate incidents this week, reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

On July 2, 14 activists were arrested as they collected signature on petitions calling for restoration of a Catholic church to active use. St. Joseph's Church in Budslaw has been closed by authorities, and parishioners fear that it may be converted into a hotel. They were circulating a petition opposing that change, as well as a separate petition calling for changes in the country's laws governing religion. The 14 activists were released after several hours, but their petitions were confiscated.

The next day, July 3, police raided an apartment in Minsk and arrested 6 activists who were preparing literature calling for changes in the 2002 religion law. They too were released after spending most of a day in prison, but their campaign material-- including computers and printers as well as religious literature-- was seized. Alaksiej Shein, the co-chairman of the Belarus Christian Democrat Party, told Christian Solidarity Worldwide that the raid in Minsk was illegal, since police had no warrant. He said that the raid and the arrests were clearly intended to intimidate religious activists.

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